For the study, 203 men who identified themselves as non-gay who reported engaging in same-sex behavior but had not disclosed their bisexuality to their female partners were examined by researchers at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. The subjects studied represent a subcategory of bisexual men who live primarily heterosexual lives and usually do not divulge their same-sex behavior to anyone.
Published in the Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, the study found that men who think of themselves as predominately heterosexual, live with a girlfriend or wife, and have a lesser amount of sex with men were more likely to hide their same-sex behavior. Also, those men who had more sex with women showed a greater level of concealment. Men with household incomes of $30,000 or more per-year reported greater concealment about their same-sex behavior than men with lower incomes.
Around 1/3 of the men from the study said that they have not shared their same-sex behaviors with anybody and 41percent said that they had only revealed their behaviors to a parent or best friend.
“Our research provides information on the factors that might contribute to greater concealment among this group of behaviorally bisexual men,” said Eric Schrimshaw, Ph.D., and lead author of the study. “Such information is critical to understanding which of these bisexual men may be at greatest risk for mental health problems.”
Schrimshaw and his colleagues found that when men hide their bisexuality to a greater extent, it leads to feelings of anxiety and depression and lower positive feelings about themselves. Though you would think disclosing this conduct to a few close friends or family would help, it did not. Bisexual men also reported having lower levels of social support and more suppressed homophobia, often feeling ashamed about their same-sex behavior.
“The fact that concealment, but not disclosure, was associated with the mental health of these bisexual men is critically important for the way therapeutic interventions are conducted in this population,” said Karolynn Siegel, Ph.D., professor of sociomedical sciences and co-author. “Although disclosure may result in acceptance from family and friends, in other cases — particularly with female partners — disclosure may also result in rejecting reactions, which are adversely associated with mental health.”
The researchers insist that professionals focus more on helping such men accept their sexual orientation, reducing their apparent need to hide their same-sex behavior from others. Better emotional support can and will ultimately help them deal with their need to conceal their same-sex behavior and “come out of the closet”.
- Nauert, Rick. “Hiding Bisexuality Increases Risk of Depression.” PsychCentral. Psych Central. 3 Jan. 2013. Web. 4 Jan. 2013.
Filed under: Research · Tags: bisexual, bisexual men, bisexuality, Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, Eric Schrimshaw, gay men, heterosexual, homophobia, homosexuality, Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, mental health, out of the closet, Ph.D., same-sex behavior, sexual orientation